Poetry Extravaganza builds student excitement about poems


Poetry is everywhere this month at the Holten Richmond Middle School in Danvers, MA – with everyone from students to teachers getting in on the poetic action. Their Poetry Month celebration kicked off with a Poetry Extravaganza event in collaboration with Sarah Woo, the school librarian, and English Language Arts teachers Amy Roy and Megan White.

“Virtually all students embraced the Poetry Extravaganza” said Woo. We didn’t hear anyone say, “I don’t like poetry,” or “I can’t write a poem.”

During the event, students met in the library and had fun as they visited stations to create different types of poems. One form that was popular with students is Paint Chip Poetry. Not only is it a great way to recycle paint chips from the hardware store, but it also serves as a source of inspiration for students. Read More »


English Conversation Circles help immigrants build language skills and confidence

English Conversation Circles

Fifteen years ago visitors to the Peabody Institute Library looking for help with their English language skills were directed to a small bookshelf packed with books and some audio tapes. Library staff regularly referred people to the local organizations that offered ESOL classes, but warned that there were long waiting lists.

During this same time period, school and census data indicated that demographic growth in Peabody was a result of new, undeserved immigrant populations settling in the area. This trend was confirmed in 2013 when the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development designated Peabody as a Gateway City, indicating the city’s need for economic development, and educational and employment opportunities. One of the ways that the Peabody Library responded to this need was to commit to a program of English Conversation Circles to support local ESOL classes with the goal of eliminating the language barriers that are a key ingredient to educational opportunity and economic success of Peabody’s growing immigrant population.

Today, the Peabody Library offers English language learners a great deal more. Read More »


College student to build library at correctional center to help incarcerated moms read with their children

Mt. Holyoke College senior Maria Patterson is working with Reader to Reader in Amherst, Mass. to build a library at a local correctional center

Mt. Holyoke College senior Maria Patterson is working with Reader to Reader in Amherst, Mass. to build a library at a local correctional center to help mothers read to their children.

As the evidence continues to build showing how essential parent-child reading can be in the preschool years, it’s worth asking: What happens to a child whose main caregiver is incarcerated? Is there a way to continue to foster that reading relationship? And what can the criminal justice system do to help? Read More »


Teaching children about refugees, immigrants and slaves through picture books

Children around the world

How do we explain the unimaginable? Where are the words to describe how some children are torn from their homes, run in fear from all they know, looking for a place to live where they will feel safe?

Children’s literature does not fail us here. Recent publications include stories of slaves, immigrants and refugees, spoken in honest words. These books are heart-rending, but true tales, revelations of strife and hopeful ideals. When children ask questions about the protests they are hearing about on the news surrounding immigration issues these books lead to a path to understanding, and sometimes to more questions. Read More »


A middle schooler’s top five vacation reads

Middle Schooler's Book List

If you’re a middle school student like me, you might spend most of your holiday vacation week playing sports or video games. But just because it’s vacation doesn’t mean you can’t spend time on reading too. These five titles are a combination of both older and newer books and offer something for everyone. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Here are my Top 5 suggestions for books for middle schoolers to read over the vacation:

  1. “Bud Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis In this book, a ten-year-old boy embarks on a journey to find his father in the 1930s in the south.  It serves as an inspiration to middle school students because Bud never gives up.
  2. Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson Jess Aarons is a fifth grader who wants more than anything, to be the fastest runner in his grade. As a fifth grader on my middle school track team, I really connected to this story. The main theme in this book, however, is friendship, something extremely important to all of us middle schoolers.
  3. The Big Nate series by Lincoln Pierce Nate is an eleven-year-old boy who is “not quite the honor roll” student. He always ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, a perfect combination for both laughs and detention.
  4. Among the Hidden” by Margaret Haddix This book takes place in a future in which there is a population control policy. Luke is a forbidden third child who fights for his right to exist. I’m curious about what like might be like in the future, so I found this book very interesting.
  5. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney You may already be familiar with this series, but they are always great to read over and over. Greg Heffley is a boy who seems only able to do wrong. Fortunately, he often finds a way to get out of trouble that makes the reader laugh out loud.

Joey Manning is a fifth grader at Raynham Middle School.